photo of Dr. Blacksmith
Dr. Lulu Blacksmith

Community colleges have a rich history of cooperation. This is part of our history at Waubonsee, as well as our present. Our collaborations and connections with the community take on many forms and involve many staff members. In my role as the director of government and community engagement, I sit on various non-profit boards and am involved in various community efforts.

As a member of the Kane County Health Department (KCHD) Health Advisory Committee, I have gained insight into how the department protects, promotes and prevents disease in Kane County as well as how Waubonsee can contribute toward their efforts. Also, Waubonsee’s Assistant Dean for Mathematics and Sciences sits on the KCHD “Fit for Kids” committee and Waubonsee’s Dean for Health Professions and Public Service is part of the KCHD’s Executive Committee for Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan. Collectively, we volunteer our time and talent to support the Kane County Health Department while also expanding the college’s knowledge of the health needs of our district.

For almost five years, I have served on the Aurora Downtown Board and have worked with a number of key leaders who are committed to revitalizing downtown Aurora. The Downtown Aurora leadership includes business owners, elected officials, chambers of commerce, the City of Aurora’s Economic Development Department, as well as leaders from Waubonsee. In collaboration with property owners and downtown businesses, we work towards building one common agenda: to make Aurora Downtown a successful destination where more people go for shopping and entertainment. Our involvement with Aurora Downtown and other municipalities helps support our college district’s economic health.

Recently, I joined government officials from the Village of Oswego and leaders from the Oswego's school, fire and park districts at the Village of Oswego Legislative Breakfast. Each of us had an opportunity to share our legislative priorities with State of Illinois elected officials. Forging mutually beneficial connections helps us develop credible, united voices and together we advocate on behalf of our common interests.  

As a community college, we are very proud to serve as an educational resource to many. However, providing access to higher education and opportunity is not done in isolation from the communities we serve.  Approximately 90 percent of Waubonsee’s administrators volunteer their time to work with service clubs, nonprofits and local, state and federal organizations to tackle community challenges, enhance our offerings, and cultivate trust in our communities.  Working with our communities is a key approach we utilize to achieve a higher level of institutional effectiveness. We are proud to work with our stakeholders, to learn about the issues affecting our communities, to improve economic growth, and to unite in one common voice to advance our respective goals.

One of the most rewarding things about working at Waubonsee Community College is the opportunity to meet so many people who are interested in working with us to create brighter futures for our students. In my experience working in the community, I have learned that creating meaningful connections with individuals and groups is important to creating spaces where people find each other to openly share ideas, commitment and learning… and in the process find solutions to real problems.

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